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Pistons/Bucks: Preview

Bucks (20-34, 6-23 road, 12th East) @ Pistons (39-15, 21-5 home, 2nd East)

Gametime: 7:00 pm CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/Free NBA Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free

Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (101.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 29th (107.9), Rebounding 19th (.500 rr), Pace 24th (92.7)
Pistons Stats: Offense 9th (107.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 4th (100.1), Rebounding 11th (.508 rr), Pace 30th (90.1)

Bucks Lineup:  Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Charlie Villanueva / Andrew Bogut
Pistons Lineup: Chauncey Billups / Richard Hamilton / Tayshaun Prince / Antonio McDyess / Rasheed Wallace

Bucks Injuries: Ramon Sessions is out with a broken left hand.
Pistons Injuries: None really.

07/08 Series: Pistons 2-1. After getting blown out in the first two matchups, the Bucks gained a small measure of revenge by downing the Pistons 103-98 on Wednesday. The Pistons came to the Bradley Center and crushed the Bucks 117-91 on Dec. 1. The Bucks also went into the Palace on Dec. 31 and were destroyed 114-69.

Key Points:

  • Heading into the all-star break, the Pistons had won 10 straight, holding seven straight opponents under 100 points. But they've now lost two straight and conceded over 100 in both games, a 103-85 home loss to the Magic on Tuesday followed by the 103-98 loss in Milwaukee on Wednesday. While the Pistons rank in the NBA's top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, they play at the slowest pace of any team in the league and clearly didn't prefer it when the Bucks pushed the tempo a bit. All season long I've considered the Pistons the class of the Eastern Conference, so another poor effort tonight would raise serious questions about their regular season motivation.  
  • Richard Hamilton leads the Pistons in scoring, averaging 18.0 ppg, though he hasn't scored more than 19 points since scoring 32 on January 25. Of course, no one minds a balanced attack when it's winning games, but Hamilton has scored just 23 points combined in the Pistons two losses this week.  It's not that he's way off either--he's shooting 50% from the field in those two games (7/14), but he's simply not getting enough shots.
  • The big Bucks news from the trade deadline? No news. As expected (but not in a good way), the Bucks sat on their hands and will go the final 28 games with the same group that came to camp in October. The inaction reaffirms Herb Kohl's apparent intention to have GM Larry Harris sit idly by until his contract is up this summer. We've complained enough about that situation, so let's look on the bright side: at least the players can focus on playing some basketball:

    Said forward Desmond Mason, "There’s always a sigh of relief once the deadline passes and now it’s, ‘OK, I’m pretty much set here’. For us, it’s just trying to stay consistent. We got a good win last night and we’ve got to think about 28 more games."

  • Mason has been a bundle of energy of late, averaging 14.8 ppg on 68% shooting in his last three games. He scored 16 on 8/11 fg Wednesday, showing his usual athleticism around the hoop while also throwing in a number of mid-range jumpers.
  • Following a summer in which he re-upped with the Pistons, former second round pick Amir Johnson has been used relatively sparingly, but the 20-year old has averaged 20 mpg over the last three contests and his presence in the fourth quarter was cited among the reasons the Pistons came back in the late stages of Wednesday's game. While his numbers on Wednesday weren't eye-popping (3 pts/6 rebs) he showed more of what he could do in the Pistons win over Indiana last week: 8 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks in 31 minutes.
  • For more coverage of tonight's opponent, check out Need4Sheed, Detroit Bad Boys, and PistonsNationBlog.